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Empire of Lies: The Truth about China in the Twenty-First Century Hardcover – April 8, 2008
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French journalist, politician and philosopher (and why can't we get that combo in America), exposes the lies of both the Chinese Communist Party and its Western apologists, which range from hardcore economic conservative American capitalists to French communists.
There's a few basic lies that underscore the scores of surface lies both the Chinese Party and its western enablers tell.
Sorman says Lie No. 1 is that capitalism will lead to democracy. He has a clear, albeit much smaller, counterexample - Singapore, led by, ironically or not, Chinese.
Lie No. 2 is that there is a "Chinese mindset," "Chinese way of business," or whatever, that is antithetical to democracy. Variants of that include references (usually wrong ones, according to Sorman) to Confucianism, etc. Counterexample? Taiwan. Daoism, repressed in China, flourishes there along with Confucianism, Buddhism and Protestant and Catholic Christianity -- along with traditional Chinese culture.
Lie No. 3 is the lie of Chinese economic statistics. Sorman says that even if you don't discount the costs of environmental degradation, Chinese growth rates are almost surely somewhat overstated, and possibly highly overstated.
Lie No. 4 might be a partial variant of No. 2, and would be the "China isn't all that bad" lie, especially if you compare it to the former Soviet Union. Sorman argues the other way around, that China is arguably more repressive than the Soviets of Khrushchev and beyond, at least in some ways.
As a result of all this, Sorman says, we really don't have that much to fear from China as a foreign power in general or a military adventurer in particular. On the economic side, in fact, he expects the rich-poor gap to be likely to worsen, not improve.
Another "sublie" would be the one that Western countries, through "economic involvement" with China, can moderate its behavior. China isn't going to be moderated by that. And, as a sidebar, Sorman estimates that about half the Western-owned factories in China are money-losers.
Read this book and get an unvarnished view of today's China.
The book was probably written more for the European (and especially French) intelligentsia with their love of socialism and a social and political order led by the properly academically qualified (somehow they seem to have forgotten that the intelligentsia were the ones murdered, tortured-frequently to death, exiled, and assaulted by their beloved Mao's Cultural Revolution). But their support of the Communists also allows them to satisfy their anti-American feelings.
So the book is a good summary of the political and economic problems facing China under the current system, although his points could be better documented. The translation unfortunately is not very good.
French writer Guy Sorman takes a different view in "The Empire of Lies". He interviews several people, including dissidents, in an attempt to uncover the truth about China today. Sorman believes that the Chinese economy is not growing as quickly as advertised, and that there is much discontent, especially in the countryside. The institutions in the country, he believes, encourage short-term thinking--this retards economic growth. In contrast to many in the West, he thinks that China will not be able to conquer Taiwan in the near future. Sorman also takes a look at religion and the persecution of religion by the Communist Party.
Sorman asserts that the West has had a tendency to misread China for centuries, and that it still does so today. Unlike many in the U.S. and Europe, he says that there is no reason to fear China at this time.